I haven’t written in it for a while now which makes me sad but also happy because that means I’ve been working hard on other things.
For instance, FutMexNation just launched our brand new website and it looks amazing. Seriously, go check it out!
But, what I love about this and the reason that I made it is because I want to have a place to go to when I want to voice my opinion. A sanctuary. And maybe, even, polish up my own personal brand when I feel I’m getting lost from it.
So with that tangent being done: to those view readers I have, thank you for returning. For some new ones: Welcome, tangents are my forte here and I hope they don’t annoy you.
Unless you were living under a rock two weeks ago, World Cup Qualifiers started up for 2017. Ah, yes, World Cup Qualifiers. Where I slowly hype myself up with ‘Waka Waka’ only to land in YouTube’s dark fortress where highlights of Mexico and the Netherlands still exists. It’s been 1000+ days and it still hurts.
Mexico faced Costa Rica on March 24th and then went against Trinidad & Tobago on the 28th for the hexagonal round of qualifying. One game was hard fought and showed dominance and the other can barely be considered a soccer game. That up and down feeling is basically the way Mexico fans respond when you ask them their opinion of JCO.
Before I start bagging on Osorio, I’ll make one thing clear: he’s not necessarily doing a bad job with El Tri. He’s clearly doing something right if he only has one loss under his belt after being in charge for over 20 matches. I understand there is a method to what he does. I’ll also give in to those who criticize the people that complain about Osorio that Mexico fans are never satisfied. I’ll even go so far as to say that even though you’ll find me on twitter with the #Piojo2018 hashtag (pour one out for what could’ve been), Osorio will probably have a plane ticket to Russia.
But I want to go back to that one particular loss. Because I feel like that loss is a foundational aspect to why I am so reluctant to his method and him as a coach.
I talked it about once in a very disorganized and ramble-like blogpost following the 7-0 loss against Chile and when I was watching the games this past weekend, I was triggered with that feeling again. Especially, during the match against Trinidad & Tobago.
The game was pure madness. From the very beginning, from the line up to the placement of the players was all over the place. Then came the actual performance on the field. The players were everywhere. There was no control in the midfield. Trinidad & Tobago even had a controversial offsides call after they had shot a beautiful goal. It was all over the place. The goal that Diego Reyes scored--who was playing in the midfield for God knows why--was a fluke. Mexico managed to win and secure their lead at the top of the table but the game was ugly. But again, like it happened back in June of 2016, there was this polarization. Both sides of which I understood. Osorio’s rotations did not work this game. Mexico hardly attacked and were lucky T&T did not make more of their breakaway opportunities. Still, strategically, Osorio had a plan.
His rotations at time prove a purpose. But Osorio is not stupid. He might be famous for his rotations but he does not flood us with them during important games... anymore. When Mexico had to face the US in Columbus for the Confederations Cup Playoff, he did not make that many rotations. He knew what was at stake and played his best players. Everyone who can be considered a “starter” was included in his roster. There were no possible surprises. Critics, journalists and Osorio himself knew what needed to come from that game. He delivered.
He partially did the same thing against T&T. He knew he wanted to stay at the top of the table so he played an easy game. Tried to make sure they did not score first and possibly get a goal if possible. Again, he delivered.
However, I feel we still do not put the pressure on him that he needs or criticize as much as we should. We are most definitely not in 2013-2014 qualifier status but we still struggle and I feel it’s because Osorio picks and chooses what games he feels are important when in reality every game should be important. When games like T&T happen where we get an ugly win but we don’t start players who consistently get playing time with their clubs (Jonathan Dos Santos or Oribe Peralta) or constantly change keepers game after game or keep players who aren’t benefitting the midfield like Hector Herrera used to, that should be noted.
He should make those changes or keep a consistent foundation. It is mediocre results like the game against Trinidad & Tobago that allow for him to believe his method aren’t subject to suggestions or changes because he won against a weaker team. Sure, there’s the humidity, the large amounts of injuries and his own personal beliefs that stop him from making rational decisions when they’re needed. The fact that he feels the game against Trinidad & Tobago might not be as important as the Costa Rica game or the US game should raise red flags.
He continues to get ugly results and it works out in his favor. But last World Cup, Mexico was anything but ugly. Confederations Cup is not the World Cup (Chicago Fire might have a chance to qualify for this with Schweinsteiger... sorry, had to get it out of my system) but that level of competition is as close as Mexico will get until 2018.
There, Mexico will go up against Portugal, New Zealand and Russia. Back in 2014, two of the best games people watched were Mexico vs. Brazil and Mexico vs. Netherlands. Why? Because Mexico exceeded all expectations. Tying against Brazil, the home team, with San Guillermo Ochoa blocking every shot player like Neymar attempted to get past him. Even now, the game against the Netherlands is talked about by non-Mexican fans. Debates still continue. It was that good!
How confident do I feel we will feel that excitement in Russia? Not very. Juan Carlos Osorio will not ever let us on to what goes on in his mind. Who will play against Russia? Or Portugal?! Which one of our very nerve wracking and error-prone defenders will be defending Cristiano Ronaldo? Will defenders even be playing in defensive positions? What about a team like New Zealand? A team that Miguel ‘Piojo’ Herrera faced with primarily domestic players and won a 9-3 aggregate playoff against?
Or will we settle “ugly wins” that will put us at the top of the table and help us advance to the next round and Osorio is more prepared to face tough teams while still using his rotation method (an outcome that could affect the outcome of Mexico’s World Cup chances as well)?
I’m slowly accepting him being Mexico's coach. But if we end up re-enacting a 7-0 loss at some point during that tournament, at least my reluctance will have validation even at the cost of Mexico.